A hungry Avella baseball team didn’t munch on any packed meals or make a pit stop for fast food on the way back from its PIAA playoff opener Monday.

On this day, the Eagles figured they could do better than that.

“We had steak dinners,” coach Jason Fogg said.

A befitting meal after accomplishing something the school never had before.

Avella used a four-run sixth inning to bust open a tie game before going on to defeat District 10 champion West Middlesex, 12-9, in a PIAA Class 1A first-round game at Slippery Rock University.

The PIAA win was the first for Avella (13-6), which was making its tournament debut after earning a spot via its win in the WPIAL’s third-place consolation game.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest with you. The boys brought us here. I just coach them. They do all the hard work,” said Fogg, who is in his 18th season.

With the score tied, 8-8, Avella loaded the bases in the sixth following a single by Westley Burchianti, a Cole Jaworowski walk and a Cam Ullom single. Sophomore Bryce Wright then delivered the game’s biggest hit — his fourth of the game — drilling a three-run triple to put the Eagles in the lead. Later in the inning, Burchianti added a sacrifice fly to extend the Avella lead to 12-8.

Wright, who in the second produced a two-run single, started on the mound for Avella, but was pulled after giving up seven runs in two innings as the Eagles fell behind, 7-5.

“Bryce has been doing it for us in all phases, especially in the playoffs,” Fogg said. “He came up to me when the bases were loaded and said, ‘I was a little erratic on the mound. I’m going to make up for it right now.’”

Hitting was contagious for Avella, which racked up 16 hits to go along with the 12 runs. Burchianti (three hits), Brayden Fuller (three hits) and Isaiah Bradick (two RBIs) were among the other hitting stars. Bradick was also the winning pitcher after allowing two runs over the final five innings.

Next up for Avella is Eden Christian, which handed the Eagles an 11-2 defeat in the WPIAL semifinals.

As for Avella’s victory meal Monday, the question is would the steak dinner still be in the cards even if the Eagles had lost?

“I think we would have downgraded a little,” Fogg said. “Maybe Primanti’s.”

Other Class 6A

• Penn State recruit Matt VanOstenbridge fired a one-hitter to propel District 3 third-place finisher Wilson (16-7) to a 2-0 win at WPIAL champion North Allegheny (17-7). Christo Hunsicker’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh pushed Wilson ahead. Nico Varlotta took the loss for North Allegheny, giving up two runs and six hits in 6⅓ innings.

• Jack Hower’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh gave host and District 10 champion McDowell (15-7) a 1-0 win against WPIAL runner-up Mt. Lebanon (18-6). Mt. Lebanon starting pitcher Graham Keen was pulled just before the at-bat after reaching the pitch limit. Weston Airey pitched to the final batter. Mt. Lebanon had three hits and McDowell five.

Right-hander Dom Delio picked up the win for Penn-Trafford in the Warriors’ 3-2 win against Lower Dauphin in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 5A

• Ian Temple’s run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth lifted WPIAL champion Penn-Trafford (21-3) to a PIAA win for the second year in a row, 3-2, against District 3 fifth-place finisher Lower Dauphin (17-10) at Plum. Chuck Fontana and Carmen Metcalfe also drove in runs for Penn-Trafford. Dom Delio was the winning pitcher, and Hunter Brown got the save.

• Winning pitcher Ryan Walsh gave up one hit and struck out eight across five shutout innings and Ethan Stanhoff drove in four runs to push WPIAL runner-up Bethel Park (16-7-1) into the quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row following an 11-1 win at District 3 champion Mechanicsburg (19-4-1). Stanhoff had a two-run double and a two-run single.

• District 6 champion Hollidaysburg (15-5) scored two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to rally for a 4-2 home win against WPIAL third-place finisher Franklin Regional (15-9). Blake Bertucci and Luke Williams collected RBIs for Franklin Regional, while Darren Deriggi and Owen Sinclair each had two hits. Losing pitcher Max Bernadowski went five innings.

Class 4A

• Ben Ryan and Ryan Okopal combined on a three-hit shutout as WPIAL runner-up Indiana (14-10) avenged a loss in last year’s quarterfinals by winning at defending District 6 champion and defending PIAA champion Bellefonte (18-3), 3-0. Ryan gave up two hits in 5⅓ innings and Okopal one in 1⅔. Charlie Manzi had two hits, including a two-run homer in the second.

Montour (17-7), the WPIAL’s third-place finisher, rallied from two runs down to top District 10 champion Cathedral Prep (19-4), 5-2, at Mercyhurst Prep. Mike Ivanoff and Jonathan Cecil had RBI singles as part of a three-run seventh for Montour, which fell to Cathedral Prep in last year’s first round. Ivanoff had two RBIs for Montour, which took advantage of six Cathedral Prep errors.

Fleetwood (14-8), District 3’s third-place finisher, snapped a tie by scoring two runs in the fifth and held on to defeat WPIAL champion North Catholic (17-5), 3-2, at Seneca Valley. Owen Beatrice and Blake Primrose had sacrifice flies for North Catholic, while Ryan Shantz had two of the team’s seven hits. Caden Williams took the loss, giving up three runs in six innings.

• District 3 champion East Pennsboro (20-2) scored six runs in the first two innings before going on to advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season courtesy of an 11-4 home win against WPIAL fourth-place qualifier Thomas Jefferson (19-5). Isaac Gilbert had two hits and three RBIs for East Pennsboro. Thomas Jefferson scored three of its runs in the fourth.

Class 3A

South Allegheny (20-5), the WPIAL’s third-place qualifier, captured a PIAA win for the first time in program history courtesy of a 10-3 triumph at Central Cambria (15-8), which was fresh off its first District 6 title. The Gladiators scored five runs in the second to take a 5-1 lead before adding three in the sixth and two in the seventh. Both teams finished with eight hits.

• Cooper Scharding gave up one unearned run and three hits in six innings to pick up the win and WPIAL champion Avonworth (16-9) used a six-run fourth to defeat District 6 runner-up Martinsburg Central (16-8), 6-1, at Seneca Valley. Carson Franc knocked in a pair of runs for the Antelopes, while Alex Rowe, Brandon Sapolsky and Jack Dolan had two hits apiece.

• Winning pitcher Tyler Benford gave up one hit over 5⅓ scoreless innings and also knocked in a run to help District 10 champion Fairview (17-3) beat WPIAL fourth-place finisher Burrell (13-12), 7-3, at Mercyhurst University. Burrell, which was making its first PIAA appearance since 2010, scored all three of its runs in the seventh after Fairview put up four in the sixth.

• Parker Stahlman pitched a four-hit shutout while striking out eight to help District 9 champion Puxsutawney (16-3) knock off WPIAL runner-up and defending PIAA champion Riverside (16-3), 3-0, at Showers Field in DuBois. Zach Hare (double) had Riverside’s lone extra-base hit. Hare also got the start on the mound and surrendered three runs and four hits in two innings.

Penn-Trafford’s Tyler Freas (5) and Brody Hoffman (11) celebrate their 3-2 win against Lower Dauphin in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 2A

Moniteau (13-8), the District 9 runner-up, used a four-run fourth to eliminate WPIAL champion Seton LaSalle (17-4), 5-2, at Boyce Mayview Park. Ian Ross delivered an RBI single in the first and a sacrifice fly in the fourth for Moniteau, which collected its first PIAA win since 2016. Mark Weber had a sacrifice fly for Seton LaSalle, which scored its only other run via an error.

• District 9 champion Redbank Valley (15-6) avenged PIAA losses to Burgettstown (13-6-1) in each of the previous two seasons by defeating the WPIAL third-place Blue Devils, 5-4, at Stern Family Field in DuBois. Burgettstown’s Brodie Kuzior hit a two-run homer in the top of the fifth to knot the score, 3-3, but Redbank Valley scored single runs in the fifth and sixth to surge ahead.

• WPIAL runner-up Serra Catholic (17-3) saw its season end with a 5-2 loss at District 5 champion North Star (20-4). It’s the third straight year the Eagles were eliminated in the first round. Serra, which had five hits, scored two in the top of the first, but North Star tied it in the bottom of the inning before scoring three in the fourth. North Star’s Braden Livingston had two hits and two RBIs.

Class 1A

• A year after older brother Henry no-hit Bishop Canevin in the first round, William Shaffer fired a two-hit shutout to help District 10 runner-up Saegertown (19-3) eliminate the WPIAL champion Crusaders (16-5) for the second year in a row, 8-0, at Plum. The Crusaders, who fell to Saegertown, 6-0, last year, had outscored its opponents, 27-4, in three WPIAL playoff games.

• Caleb Emswiler went 2 for 3 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored to vault WPIAL runner-up Eden Christian (17-6) to a 6-3 win against District 5 champion Conemaugh Township (20-5) at Somerset. Charlie Wolf added three hits and Brett Feldman two doubles for Eden Christian, which collected 13 hits overall and scored three of its runs in the third.

Penn-Trafford’s Brayden Stone bunts against Lower Dauphin in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Monday, June 3, 2024, at Plum High School. Penn-Trafford won, 3-2. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

PIAA first round scores

Class 6A

McDowell 1, Mt. Lebanon 0

Wilson 2, North Allegheny 0

Class 5A

Bethel Park 11, Mechanicsburg 1

Hollidaysburg 4, Franklin Regional 2

Penn-Trafford 3, Lower Dauphin 2

Class 4A

East Pennsboro 11, Thomas Jefferson 4

Fleetwood 3, North Catholic 2

Indiana 3, Bellefonte 0

Montour 5, Cathedral Prep 2

Class 3A

Avonworth 6, Martinsburg Central 1

Fairview 7, Burrell 3

Punxsutawney 3, Riverside 0

South Allegheny 10, Central Cambria 3

Class 2A

Moniteau 5, Seton LaSalle 3

North Star 5, Serra Catholic 2

Redbank Valley 5, Burgettstown 4

Class 1A

Avella 12, West Middlesex 9

Eden Christian 6, Conemaugh Township 3

Saegertown 8, Bishop Canevin 0

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.